‘She was my heart’: Mother of 19-year-old killed in crash involving 2 officers seeks answers from police

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 11:17 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Losing a daughter is a pain no mother should experience, but now between labored breaths, surrounded by loved ones, Tiara Williams must now find a way to pick up the pieces after learning the worst from Richmond Police Friday morning.

“I knew that was her!” Williams cried.

By the name tattoed on Tiara’s wrist, you can tell that her daughter Tracey Williams was more than just her child.

“That’s my heart, that’s my heart,” Williams said. “She was so sweet. She had no beef with nobody. She was so loving and caring to everybody.”

19-year-old Tracey Williams was killed when the car she was riding in collided with a police SUV and was thrown from the vehicle at the intersection of Bells and Castlewood roads.

Police identified the Buick’s driver as Jeremiah Ruffin, Tracey’s boyfriend, who was also ejected from the vehicle. He remains in the hospital with serious injuries. Police say neither was wearing a seatbelt.

The two officers involved have been identified as Officers Richard Johnson and DaQuan Walker. One officer has been released from the hospital, while the other remains hospitalized with a brain injury.

According to RPD Chief Smith, Officer Johnson was driving at the time, and they were responding to reports of a burglary in progress in the 1500 block of Clarkson Road. The officers had the authorization to use lights and sirens.

But Williams questions exactly how the crash happened in the first place.

“I have been calling and calling, and nobody has picked,” an emotionally exhausted Williams said.

She says she wants to know if the officers had their lights on while responding to the burglary call before the crash, but according to Richmond Police Chief Geral Smith, he’s not sure if the officers did.

“We cannot say definitely that their blue lights and sirens were on. They had authorization. We have some clues that that could have been the case,” said Chief Smith.

But Williams says she isn’t satisfied with that answer, especially since this isn’t the first time she’s been left with questions following the death of a child involving police.

Tracey’s family said that she was the half-sister of Xzavier Hill, who was shot and killed by Virginia State Police on I-64 on Jan. 9, 2021. The two were just six weeks apart in age.

Xavier’s mother, Latoya Benton, who is comforting Williams now, says it shouldn’t be this difficult to get a clear answer from the police.

“We’re not going to keep going through that. No family should have to file a FOIA request to get footage about their child being hit by police,” Benton said.

But Chief Smith says the investigation is in the early stage. He says he needs patience and information about the crash from witnesses.

“We would really like to know; just give us a call,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, Williams says she and her family seek closure and truth for Tracey.

“We comforted each other, and I don’t know what I would do without her,” Williams said.

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